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NAAFA Challenges the First Lady
The issue is about the critical need to create environments in which children do not feel shame or guilt about their bodies but, are motivated to enjoy healthful eating and active living habits regardless of their body size or shape.
Mrs. Obama, please explore and consider the following:
• When important figures such as parents, teachers and peers in children’s social environment endorse a preference for thinness and place an importance on weight control, this can contribute to body dissatisfaction, dieting, low self-esteem and weight bias among children and adolescents (Davison & Birch, 2001; Davison & Birch, 2004; Dohnt & Tiggemann, 2006; Smolak, Levine, & Schermer, 1999).
• The stigmatization of large children has increased by 40% over the last 30 years (Latner & Stunkard, 2003).
• Many drugs presently being prescribed to children cause weight gain. There was a 40 fold increase in bi-polar diagnoses in children between 1994 and 2003. 90.6% of youth received a psychotropic medication during bipolar disorder visits. For many, mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants were also prescribed. (Arch Gen Psychiatr,. 2007)
• Prescribing dieting is, in effect, prescribing weight cycling, and many people will be fatter in the long run (Mann, 2007).
• Based on results from a population-based, longitudinal study with 2,500 teens, Neumark-Sztainer and colleagues at the University of Minnesota (2006) concluded that to prevent obesity and eating disorders, the focus needs to be on health much more than weight. The more weight per se is talked about, the more likely teens are to adopt dangerous dieting behaviors.
• A 2006 study from UCLA suggests our media and cultural obsession with achieving a certain weight does little or no good and may actually undermine motivation to adopt exercise and other healthy lifestyle habits.
• The National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated in 2008 that childhood obesity has leveled off.
NAAFA urges the First Lady to:
• Partner with us and our many resources in the scientific and healthcare communities to examine this issue. Fat children are already the targets of merciless bullying. NAAFA urges Mrs. Obama not to support any programs that would create a pervasive bias against fat children.
• Consider Guidelines for Childhood Obesity Prevention Programs found at: http://www.aedweb.org/
• Support the Health at Every Size (HAES) tenets which state that healthy habits are good for EVERYONE, no matter what their size. Eat healthy, nutritious foods and enjoy occasional treats. Pay attention to your natural hunger and satiety cues. Move your body in ways that feel good rather than exercise focused solely on weight loss.
"Obesity has a strong genetic component that is expressed in environments that foster sedentary activity and eating an energy dense diet”, stated Joanne Ikeda, Nutritionist Emeritus, University of California Berkeley, “Therefore, we encourage First Lady Michelle Obama to promote environmental changes in school settings that support enjoyable physical activity and consumption of a wide variety of nutritious, appetizing foods."
This issue is about the critical need to create environments in which children and adolescents do not feel shame or guilt about their bodies but, rather, are motivated to enjoy healthful eating and active living habits regardless of their body size or shape.
Founded in 1969, NAAFA is a non-profit human rights organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for fat people. NAAFA works to eliminate discrimination based on body size and provide fat people with the tools for self-empowerment through public education, advocacy, and member support.
On the web:
For more information contact:
Peggy Howell, Public Relations Director, NAAFA
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Founded in 1969, NAAFA is a non-profit civil rights organization dedicated to ending size discrimination. Our goal is for people of size to be accepted with dignity and equality and will pursue this goal through advocacy, public education, and support.